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Old 06-21-2017, 08:22 PM   #1
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Question Towing advice

Hi, my hubby and I are new to our 2017 ACE 30.1. We haven't towed anything yet. We areally trying to decide what if either is easier to tow. Is it a front wheel or rear wheel drive. We have a car and truck respectively. Any suggestions? Help.
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:41 PM   #2
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Well you first have to find out if your existing vehicles can be towed. Look in the owners manual under "recreational towing". Next get your camper weighed (at something like a Cat Scale). Then subtract that weight from your rig's GCWR (Gross Combined Weight rating) that will tell you how much you can tow (if either vehicle's weight is greater than the value you can't tow that vehicle).

Once you know both of those then you can determine if you want to flat to (if either can be flat towed according to the owner's manual) or dolly tow (again the owner's manual will tell you if you can).

Flat towing is far easier to connect up and get going but costs about 2X as much as dolly towing.

For our first year of using the motorhome we simply rented cars when we were at the destination. In many ways this is the easiest thing to do (just call Enterprise and they'll drop off the car).
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Old 06-21-2017, 08:57 PM   #3
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My son had actually mentioned renting. I guess I thought all vehicles could be towed..that's how much I know. Curious as to why flat towing is so costly. Also, is it that easy to rent for a few days and then get the car picked up and we be on our way to our next stop?
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Old 06-21-2017, 09:33 PM   #4
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When you dolly tow essentially all you have to buy is the dolly. With flat towing you have to purchase a tow bar, baseplate that attaches to your vehicle, wiring for the towed (toad) vehicle, and a braking system.

Like Jamie said, look in your manual to see if your vehicle can be towed, most automatics and some manual transmission vehicles can't. For a dolly a front wheel drive is preferred since the drive wheels are off the ground.

You also need to take in to account the weight of the vehicle you want to tow, make sure you aren't exceeding your GVRW.

Depending on where you are going, how often, and what your plans are when you get there, a rental vehicle may be a good option for you.
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Old 06-22-2017, 09:19 AM   #5
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I have towed with 4down and used the dolly, to me each has it pros and cons. The four down is by far easier to hook up, its is however more costly by the time you add the brake controller. I tow with a dolly now as most newer cars it seems can not be towed 4 down. My biggest problem with the dolly is storage, and moving it to a storage spot. Does that mean do not go the dolly way I am not sure. Like said before a lot of what you do will depend on the car.
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Old 06-22-2017, 11:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by be happy View Post
I have towed with 4down and used the dolly, to me each has it pros and cons. The four down is by far easier to hook up, its is however more costly by the time you add the brake controller. I tow with a dolly now as most newer cars it seems can not be towed 4 down. My biggest problem with the dolly is storage, and moving it to a storage spot. Does that mean do not go the dolly way I am not sure. Like said before a lot of what you do will depend on the car.
X 2... we have towed both ways before and are currently dolly towing due to the vehicle we are towing. The comments about renting are also valid as we have done that before too, but be aware that places like Yellowstone probably don't have an Enterprise anywhere near where you will stay. Since we are about to go full time, we chose the dolly so we can pick our FWD vehicle with more vehicles able to be dolly towed.
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Old 06-23-2017, 03:17 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the responses. The dolly and where to store it is our concern. My hubby thinks that is more work.
Yes, I don't see getting a rental at Grand Canyons. But maybe close. Just trying to figure whether to tow what we have if it's towable or buy a small car for road trips to tow.

More suggestions are appreciated..
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:07 AM   #8
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Do your own homework, DO NOT take ANY salesmans word that says the vehicle can be towed 4 down, they DON'T know or care & are there to sell cars only.
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:20 AM   #9
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For us, dolly towing was the best answer. Lower up front cost for one thing. Then we have two front wheel drive vehicles both with over 100,000 miles. Both in good shape, no plans to trade, but rather pointless to invest thousands more $$ in them even if they were able to be towed 4down.
I guess that if I were in a position of needing to hook up and drop the toad frequently, say two or three times a week or so, I might look differently at towing 4down.
As for storing the dolly when camping, we usually slide the front end under the MH and just leave the wheels sticking out. Has never (yet) been a problem.
Chuck Peck in CasaLoca
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:49 AM   #10
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Thank you casa loca for the information. I'm thinking the storing is not as big an issue. Do you unhook the dolly before backing in the spot?
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:58 AM   #11
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X 2... we have towed both ways before and are currently dolly towing due to the vehicle we are towing. The comments about renting are also valid as we have done that before too, but be aware that places like Yellowstone probably don't have an Enterprise anywhere near where you will stay. Since we are about to go full time, we chose the dolly so we can pick our FWD vehicle with more vehicles able to be dolly towed.
Actually, there is an Enterprise car rental in West Yellowstone..... we used it and put over 700 miles on the rental car going back and forth into the park.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:59 AM   #12
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Thank you casa loca for the information. I'm thinking the storing is not as big an issue. Do you unhook the dolly before backing in the spot?
Oh yes. Drop off the toad then unhook the dolly. The wife and I can manhandle the dolly easily on level ground. If needed (as in rarely) I put a ball on the back of the toad and position the dolly before I back in to a spot. Pull throughs are a cinch. Pull the dolly into position, drop it then back up over it.
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:52 AM   #13
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Do your own homework, DO NOT take ANY salesmans word that says the vehicle can be towed 4 down, they DON'T know or care & are there to sell cars only.
x2 on this one!!! Read the owners manual first BEFORE you buy!
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Max View Post
My son had actually mentioned renting. I guess I thought all vehicles could be towed..that's how much I know. Curious as to why flat towing is so costly. Also, is it that easy to rent for a few days and then get the car picked up and we be on our way to our next stop?


We started out with a dolly and quickly sold that and moved to flat tow. The cost is greater but in my opinion it is much better. 1.) Either my wife or I can hook it up or unhook it without assistance. I would never try that with a tow dolly. 2.) The towbar is much easier to store than a dolly. 3) The brake can be used in multiple vehicles. We have baseplate on two vehicles.
But, with all that said, it is personal preference and everyone's situation is different. Do what works for you.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:07 PM   #15
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We started out with a dolly and quickly sold that and moved to flat tow. The cost is greater but in my opinion it is much better. 1.) Either my wife or I can hook it up or unhook it without assistance. I would never try that with a tow dolly. 2.) The towbar is much easier to store than a dolly. 3) The brake can be used in multiple vehicles. We have baseplate on two vehicles.
But, with all that said, it is personal preference and everyone's situation is different. Do what works for you.
I keep shaking my head at this "cost difference". How much does a new tow dolly cost? Northern Tool has one for $1100 but you can spend up to $2500 for one.

I equipped my 2016 Chevy Sonic for flat tow with:
Roadmaster Base Plate -$345
Roadmaster Taillight Wiring Kit - $56
Reese Tow Bar - $82
Curt Safety Cables W/Hooks (2 Sets) - $40
MaxxHaul 5000 Lb Adjustable Drop Hitch - $30

Total Cost - $553

Now this doesn't include a braking system, but neither do the cheap tow dollies. Before we head out over the mountains I'll add the Roadmaster InvisiBrake Supplemental Braking System for $900 which will put the total at $1453.

Also the above prices don't include labor, but that's the advantage to always doing things yourself, not to mention you know the system better and you know the quality of the work done.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:12 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Tfryman View Post
I keep shaking my head at this "cost difference". How much does a new tow dolly cost? Northern Tool has one for $1100 but you can spend up to $2500 for one.

I equipped my 2016 Chevy Sonic for flat tow with:
Roadmaster Base Plate -$345
Roadmaster Taillight Wiring Kit - $56
Reese Tow Bar - $82
Curt Safety Cables W/Hooks (2 Sets) - $40
MaxxHaul 5000 Lb Adjustable Drop Hitch - $30

Total Cost - $553

Now this doesn't include a braking system, but neither do the cheap tow dollies. Before we head out over the mountains I'll add the Roadmaster InvisiBrake Supplemental Braking System for $900 which will put the total at $1453.

Also the above prices don't include labor, but that's the advantage to always doing things yourself, not to mention you know the system better and you know the quality of the work done.


I agree. Ours cost $2200 new installed. Etrailer installs for free. That was with the brake. I could have purchased the parts on eBay for much less but didn't want to do the install. The tow dolly was $1000 slightly used with surge brake so the cost was double. But in my opinion it was worth it.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Tfryman View Post
I keep shaking my head at this "cost difference". How much does a new tow dolly cost? Northern Tool has one for $1100 but you can spend up to $2500 for one.

I equipped my 2016 Chevy Sonic for flat tow with:
Roadmaster Base Plate -$345
Roadmaster Taillight Wiring Kit - $56
Reese Tow Bar - $82
Curt Safety Cables W/Hooks (2 Sets) - $40
MaxxHaul 5000 Lb Adjustable Drop Hitch - $30

Total Cost - $553

Now this doesn't include a braking system, but neither do the cheap tow dollies. Before we head out over the mountains I'll add the Roadmaster InvisiBrake Supplemental Braking System for $900 which will put the total at $1453.

Also the above prices don't include labor, but that's the advantage to always doing things yourself, not to mention you know the system better and you know the quality of the work done.
My Master Tow 80 with surge brakes, spare tire, spare tire mount and straps cost under 1500.00 brand new from my RV dealer. I have towed three different cars on the dolly, two of mine and my neighbors when his daughter broke down.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:53 PM   #18
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My Master Tow 80 with surge brakes, spare tire, spare tire mount and straps cost under 1500.00 brand new from my RV dealer. I have towed three different cars on the dolly, two of mine and my neighbors when his daughter broke down.
Thanks for helping to disprove the "price difference" argument.
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:48 PM   #19
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Thanks for helping to disprove the "price difference" argument.
I do not believe I disproved the argument. To outfit my Lincoln MKZ for flat towing would cost approx 3000.00 which includes supplemental braking, which by the way, is required in most states. Only 10 states do not specifically require a supplemental braking system and most of those require the ability to stop within a specified distance at a specific speed.

Flat towing is considerably more expensive, especially if you rotate vehicles or buy a new vehicle every few years.
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:28 PM   #20
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I weighed pro's & con's dolly vs flat towing, decided the additional expense was worth it to me to be able to flat tow. We did that for many years, using all blue ox tow equipment and U.S.Gear braking system. Towed a Chevy HHR for almost ten years. The owners manual for that car clearly states it is towable four down, but not dolly towing. I believe there may be a rear clearance issue towing with the front end raised. Still have the HHR and the Gemini is set up to tow, but struggles with the HHR, where the former DP didn't. Since the Gemini is small, we rarely tow, used the MH to stock up on supplies, or rent an econobox when needed. Both towing and not towing have advantages and disadvantages. I could write pages on why you should tow, and probably an equal number of pages as to why you should not. Its all personal preference.
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